After more than a decade managing a solo practice and collaborating with the Luvera Law Firm team on key cases, attorney George Ahrend formally joined our firm in 2022. George brings passion, focus and experience that continue to make him an integral contributor to the Luvera team.
With 207 reported decisions, including 123 precedent-setting published decisions to date, George’s work in business and civil litigation, insurance misconduct, and personal injury cases has led to significant advancements for residents statewide. In one of George’s recent notable cases, Washington state courts adopted a new standard for premises liability, requiring commercial landowners to be proactive in making their properties safe for customers and tenants.
Now, George holds an of-counsel role with Luvera Law Firm, co-anchoring the firm’s newest office in Spokane. Entering this next chapter in his career, George looks to bring his extensive experience and make a lasting impact on not only the Spokane community, but also the greater Pacific Northwest region.
Read on to learn more about George and his legal journey below.
How are things going at Luvera Law Firm now that you’ve been here for a while?
GA: I’ve had an absolute blast working with this team – and we are continuing to make a difference for our clients and other community members across the state.
In fact, we are building on a case I was working on at my previous practice, the Ahrend Law Firm. We had been waiting on this specific case ever since the Insurance Fair Conduct Act was enacted in 2007, so it’s incredibly exciting that it has finally come full circle.
Can you share more about the Insurance Fair Conduct Act? What is it and how does it attempt to prevent insurance companies from acting in bad faith?
GA: When someone goes to their insurance company and files a legitimate claim, it’s expected that the company thoroughly investigate and promptly pay benefits that are due. It’s illegal for the company to unreasonably deny your insurance claim or violate laws that govern unfair claims settlement practices. This is called insurance bad faith, which is when an insurance company attempts to back out of its contractual obligations to its clients.
The Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA) was enacted to hold insurance companies accountable for those unfair practices by compensating policyholders who file and win claims when they’ve been treated unfairly. Without the IFCA, there’s really no incentive for insurance companies to follow the law and no deterrent against bad behavior, which is what we’re seeing in other states that don’t have a similar policy in place.
This impacts plaintiffs in a few ways, but the main thing is that they are deprived of the security and peace of mind that their insurance premiums are supposed to pay for. People don’t buy insurance for economic benefit or profit. They want protection from unforeseen calamities, which are only made worse when the insurance company doesn’t do what it is supposed to.
What changes have you seen since the IFCA was enacted? Are insurance companies being held more accountable for wrongdoing?
GA: Because most insurance companies are located outside of Washington state, when there is a dispute between an insurer and their policyholder, the trial is typically moved by the insurance company to a federal court. Since 2015, federal courts have not allowed individuals or families who file a claim to obtain non-economic damages for emotional distress resulting from the unreasonable denial of an insurance claim. Under the current law, they can only receive economic losses – direct reimbursement for things like medical expenses, which the insurance company should have covered in the first place.
We’re looking to change that, though, so those who file a claim can receive non-economic damages to hold insurers fully accountable for forcing their own customer to go through the time, expense and anguish of pursuing a legal claim just to receive the benefits they had already purchased.
Before joining Luvera Law Firm, you worked on your own for most of your career. What are some of the main differences between working on a team and working on your own?
GA: When I was practicing on my own in the past, I was responsible for almost everything – from determining strategy around a case to crafting and editing legal filings. But the reality of practicing law is that two heads are better than one, which is something I quickly benefitted from after joining the Luvera Law Firm. It’s wonderful to be part of a team of experienced lawyers who all push each other and work to make one another better in everything they do. I truly believe that aspect of collaboration and teamwork has made my work better.
I think the aspect I enjoy most about working on this team is that we just don’t give up. Our team of attorneys leaves nothing on the table when it comes to our clients and the work we put in for them. We always go above and beyond for the people we serve, which is something our clients recognize and appreciate. It’s incredibly rewarding to be part of a team like that.
Working primarily out of Spokane yourself, why is it important for our firm to have a footprint in the Inland Northwest and how does it benefit the community?
GA: I really enjoy working in Spokane. During my time here, I’ve been able to connect with residents, businesses and leaders and better understand the needs of the community members. There are very few firms anywhere that have the demonstrated expertise in managing really complex medical malpractice, personal injury and insurance misconduct cases – and historically, these types of firms have been rare in the Spokane area. We’re proud to be available as a local resource to take on complex cases, to help protect the rights of our neighbors and to hold organizations accountable for treating folks safely and fairly.
What do you like to do outside of work?
GA: I always prioritize my family and enjoy spending quality time with my wife and our six kids. We love spending time outdoors whenever we can, which includes skiing in the winter and fishing and biking in the summer.